Can you be vegan and a top performing athlete? The Olympic games are here, London 2012, and it’s an exciting time.
The question gets raised time and time again. Can you be a vegetarian or vegan and get enough protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients? When we’re talking about professional athletes, the bar is raised even higher. So much more is required of the body to perform at these levels.
Watching the Tour de France a couple weeks ago, my friend, who is not a vegan or vegetarian, challenged me to name Olympic athletes who are vegan or vegetarian. Turns out, it’s not too difficult.
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Vegan and vegetarian athletes are proving that you don’t need meat to compete and win.
In fact, Lizzie Armitstead, a British cyclist and long-time vegetarian, just won the silver medal this past Sunday.
Vegetarian runner Dylan Wykes, Canada’s fastest marathon runner, competes August 12th. A recent article in the Huffington Post reports that Wykes fuels up on almond butter and bananas, quinoa and other grains, veggies, pasta, beans, tofu, some vegan faux meat products. As with many high performance professional athletes, he uses some supplements and shakes. As a vegetarian he does eat some eggs.
Vegans shun all animal products, and sometimes are referred to as strict vegetarians, so it’s possible that some of the athletes listed here as vegetarian may be vegan.
Here’s a list of some vegan/vegetarian Olympic athletes…
Bode Miller – Vegetarian Skiier
Charlene Wong – Vegetarian Figure Skater
Surya Bonaly – Vegetarian Figure Skater
Hannah Teter – Vegetarian Snowboarder
Paavo Nurmi – Vegetarian Runner
Chris Campbell – Vegetarian Wrestler
Debbi Lawrence – Vegetarian Racewalker
Edwin Moses – Vegetarian Track & Field
Leroy Burrell – Vegetarian Sprinter
Lizzie Armitstead – Vegetarian Cycler
Emil Voight – Vegetarian Runner
Carl Lewis – Vegan Runner
Rhonda Rousey – Vegan Judo
Murray Rose – Vegan Swimmer
Charlene Wong – Vegan Figure Skater
Venus Williams – Vegan Tennis Player
Serena Williams – Vegan Tennis Player
In this video, 9 time gold medal Olympian Carl Lewis talks about how his vegan diet makes sense for professional athletes. “My best performances were when I was 30 years old and I was a vegan vegetarian. Everyone says, “Where’s your protein?” Well I ate tons of lentils, love beans, had the juice. I did the things I needed to do to replace what you would get with this tremendous amount of meats most people eat.”
Winning tennis stars Venus Williams and her sister Serena Williams recently made the switch to a raw vegan diet, Venus for health reasons and Serena decided to join her. Competing in the Olympics this week, the sisters continue to win and advance to the next rounds.
As it turns out, vegan Olympic athletes and vegetarian Olympic athletes are bringing it, for some it’s already been broughten (to quote one of my favorite lines from “Bring it On”), and yet for others, well, the future holds great promise. I predict that this list will double or triple in the next Olympics 2016.